Tag Archives: pita

Homemade Pita Bread

In the ancient world, bread was usually made by using a type of sourdough starter. A little bit of raw dough was set aside, unbaked, in a cool, shaded place. This dough was then used as the leavening agent for the next week’s bake. Preparing leavened bread required the use of old matter, a bacterial culture that was continuously fermenting in an unbroken chain of bread baking with no beginning and no end. Perhaps this is why God demands that our cleansing each spring be total: we need to break all the chains that fetter us to the past. We must clear out all of the old from the house to make way for the new.

fresh pita

The ancient Hebrew word for leaven, or yeast, is se’or. There are no coincidences in the Hebrew language, and often there are multiple meanings within one word. The root of the word lehash’ir, which means to leave behind, is se’or. We can see this as an allusion to the Passover theme of leaving the past behind to start a new beginning. The “chain” of sourdough starter that was used constantly can be seen as a metaphor for the chains of slavery. The plainness and simplicity of matzah can be reinterpreted as a clean slate, the new beginning of the freed slave.

spiritual kneading web1

Use your left-over flour in preparation for cleaning out last year’s chains to the past to make pita, a type of round flatbread. Although pita is leavened, as a flatbread, it is similar to the Yemenite and Iraqi matzah, which is soft, rather than crisp, like typical Ashkenazi and Sephardic matzah. The circular shape can serve as an illustration of renewal, as we move through the cycle of the year to re-enter the spring season once more, and with it, the beginning of the Jewish year.

This recipe appears in my new book, Spiritual Kneading Through the Jewish Months: Building the Sacred Through Challah as part of my vision to write about how each Jewish month carries a specific energy from which we can draw it down and learn from it.

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Homemade Pita Bread

Posted on March 5, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The Power of Pita

They say that math is an international language since its the same no matter where you come from; but I say that food is truly the ultimate language that brings people together. And such is the story of two chefs from Jerusalem: Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli and Sami Tamimi, a Palestinian. After meeting in London in 1990 they struck up a friendship and later a partnership in their London restaurant and deli Ottolenghi. Next month their first cookbook together, Jerusalem, will be released. Food and Wine has the full story in this month’s issue which is fascinating but I especially loved this quote about the project:

Jerusalem, a cookbook that is a postcard from and a love letter to their childhood home, its history and its many-layered culinary traditions. It is as much a call to peace as it is a celebration of cuisine, arguing that food could be a way to bring a measure of understanding to a city riven by mistrust and fear. “It takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it—what have we got to lose?—to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together, if nothing else will,” the duo write.

Can’t wait for the cookbook? Try their recipe for Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Pine Nuts. And if you’re feeling inspired by the flavors of Jerusalem and the power of pita, you can always try making your own pita and hummus at home.

 

 

 

 

Posted on August 14, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy